Blog Tour: Good Neighbors (Joanne Serling)

Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 8.02.00 AM.pngGood morning and welcome to my stop on the TLC blog tour for Good Neighbours by Joanne Serling. I am thrilled to be able to provide a review for my stop of the tour

I went into this book with a lot of preexisting theories and notions based completely on the synopsis of the book.   The general gist involves an idyllic suburb, young family, an adoption, little girl from Russia with possible destructive tendencies; immediately, I found myself thinking of the 2009 movie, Orphan (starring Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard) were a young couple adopt a young girl from Russia, Esther, who ends up terrorizing the family. This movie haunted me for about six years of my life so, when I opened up this book, I was expecting a dark and twisted story.

I was wrong.
Continue reading “Blog Tour: Good Neighbors (Joanne Serling)”

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Book Review: The Art of Fear (Pamela Crane)

Screen Shot 2018-04-01 at 9.06.18 PM.pngI am always on the hunt for a new crime read. I spend a lot of time scoping out book lists on the Internet, browsing Pinterest and asking other bloggers for book recommendations. So, when I discovered The Art of Fear, the first in a series by Pamela Crane, I was intrigued.

Centering on Ari Wilburn, a guilt-ridden woman struggling with sins of her past joins a suicide support group where she meets Tina, a woman who was trafficked and suspects foul play in the death of her father. Ari and Tina team up to try and figure out the truth and find themselves in danger.

I found this one very easy to get into. Dark and a bit brooding, after reading the first chapter, I found it difficult to put down.  Crane did not mess around with her opening page, that’s for sure!!   Although I didn’t find myself relating to the characters at all, I did find myself feeling a lot of empathy towards them and that compelled me to continue reading on. Ari is completely damaged by the death of her sister but watching her grow throughout the chapters and become more confident as she helped someone else gave me that “phoenix rising from the ashes” vibe.

One of the interesting features of the writing was the countdown to Ari’s death. The chapters are labelled this way and it really did keep my attention and drove my need to read the story. I knew the outcome but I desperately needed to know how she met that fate. I felt like this was a smart choice by the author.

Although I really loved the beginning and some of the small details that Crane added into the text, I did find the pacing to be a little bit slower than what I usually like when reading a mystery/thriller. I thought maybe the story would focus more on Tina’s past and go into a bit more detail about her time being trafficked but instead, it was more character centered and focused on Ari. This does make sense, as the series focuses on her, but it just wasn’t what I was expecting completely.

Overall, I loved the general vibe of this story and loved how it ended! I cannot wait to read more in the series!

Thanks to the author (Pamela Crane), the publisher (Tabella House) and Netgalley for a digital copy of this novel; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge 2018: Update

Earlier this year, I decided to take on the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge alongside Chelsea from The Suspense Is Thrilling Me.  The challenge, which takes on 40 prompts for the regular challenge and 10 extra choices for the advanced reading list, is proving to be a pretty awesome challenge for me.  With the ability to add some classics to my reading selections, read some books on my shelf and fit in some of the books that I want to read that will be published in 2018, there was a nice balance with my choices!

So, I’ve been participating in the challenge for the last three months and, so far, I have only managed to read seven books!  SEVEN??!!   I was actually a little shocked when I actually did the count because I did feel like I was further along but, in my defence, I did run into quite a book slump that lasted me several months.  I am hoping to be able to catch up!

I’m feeling like I may need to make some adjustements to my choices since I did try to read a couple and were not able to get into them, but I chalked that up to my slump and plan on trying again!

 

  • A BOOK MADE INTO A MOVIE YOU’VE ALREADY SEEN- The Silence Of The Lambs by Thomas Harris
  • TRUE CRIME- Mindhunter by John Douglas
  • THE NEXT BOOK IN A SERIES YOU STARTED- Indelible by Karin Slaughter 
  • A BOOK INVOLVING A HEIST- Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo 
  • NORDIC NOIR- Macbeth by Jo Nesbo
  • A NOVEL BASED ON A REAL PERSON- Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel 
  • A BOOK SET IN A COUNTRY THAT FASCINATES YOU-  The Room on Rue Amelie by Kristin Harmel 
  • A BOOK WITH A TIME OF DAY IN THE TITLE- Zero Day by Ezekiel Boone 
  • A BOOK ABOUT A VILLAIN OR ANTIHERO- Normal by Graeme Cameron
  • A BOOK ABOUT DEATH OR GRIEF- Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult 
  • A BOOK WITH YOUR FAVORITE COLOR IN THE TITLE- Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard 
  • A BOOK WITH ALLITERATION IN THE TITLE- The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield 
  • A BOOK ABOUT TIME TRAVEL- Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  • A BOOK WITH A WEATHER ELEMENT IN THE TITLE- Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo 
  • A BOOK SET AT SEA- The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
  • A BOOK WITH AN ANIMAL IN THE TITLE-  The Night Bird by Brian Freeman 
  • A BOOK SET ON A DIFFERENT PLANET- Gravity by Tess Gerritsen 
  • A BOOK WITH SONG LYRICS IN THE TITLE- The Hand That Feeds You by A.J Rich
  • A BOOK ABOUT OR SET ON HALLOWEEN- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman 
  • A BOOK WITH CHARACTERS WHO ARE TWINS- Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld 
  • A BOOK WITH A FEMALE AUTHOR WHO USES A MALE PSEUDONYM- The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith 
  • A BOOK WITH AN LGBTQ+ PROTAGONIST- Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides 
  • A BOOK THAT IS ALSO A STAGE PLAY OR MUSICAL-  Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov 
  • A BOOK BY AN AUTHOR OF A DIFFERENT ETHNICITY THAN YOU- China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan
  • A BOOK ABOUT FEMINISM- Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • A BOOK ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH- This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
  • A BOOK YOU BORROWED OR THAT WAS GIVEN TO YOU AS A GIFT- Swing Time by Zadie Smith
  • A BOOK BY TWO AUTHORS- Strangers by Ursula Archer and Arno Strobel
  • A BOOK ABOUT OR INVOLVING A SPORT- Us Against You by Fredrik Backman
  • A BOOK BY A LOCAL AUTHOR- Men Walking on Water by Emily Schultz
  • A BOOK MENTIONED IN ANOTHER BOOK- Animal Farm by George Orwell 
  • A BOOK FROM A CELEBRITY BOOK CLUB- All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • A CHILDHOOD CLASSIC YOU’VE NEVER READ- The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman 
  • A BOOK THAT’S PUBLISHED IN 2018- Keep Her Safe by K.A Tucker 
  • A PAST GOODREADS CHOICE AWARDS WINNER- The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
  • A BOOK SET IN THE DECADE YOU WERE BORN- IT by Stephen King
  • A BOOK YOU MEANT TO READ IN 2017 BUT DIDN’T GET TO- The Obsession by Nora Roberts 
  • A BOOK WITH AN UGLY COVER- Forever Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid 
  • A BOOK THAT INVOLVES A BOOKSTORE OR LIBRARY- Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
  • A BOOK BY AN AUTHOR YOU’VE NEVER READ BEFORE- The Ghost Writer by Alessandra Torre

ADVANCED LIST:

  • A BESTSELLER FROM THE YEAR YOU GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL-  The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb
  • A CYBERPUNK BOOK- This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
  • A BOOK THAT WAS BEING READ BY A STRANGER IN A PUBLIC PLACE- We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
  • A BOOK TIED TO YOUR ANCESTRY- The French Girl by Lexie Elliot 
  • A BOOK WITH A FRUIT OR VEGETABLE IN THE TITLE- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
  • AN ALLEGORY- 1984 by George Orwell
  • A BOOK BY AN AUTHOR WITH THE SAME FIRST OR LAST NAME AS YOU- Until You’re Mine by Samantha Hayes
  • A MICROHISTORY- Stiff by March Roach
  • A BOOK ABOUT A PROBLEM FACING SOCIETY TODAY- The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • A BOOK RECOMMENDED BY SOMEONE ELSE TAKING THE POPSUGAR READING CHALLENGE- Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Are you taking the POPSUGAR challenge? How are you doing?!

 If you need a group to join in discussing your POPSUGAR challenge for 2018, feel free to join us on Goodreads HERE

Also, if you want to see what Chelsea is reading, she listed her choices for the challenge HERE

Book Review: The Manson Women and Me (Nikki Meredith) @KensingtonBooks

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I have always been fascinated by cults. I find them to be equal parts fascinating and terrifying. So, naturally, in high school I picked up a copy of Helter Skelter, learning all about the Manson Family.   This book stayed with me and I actually ended up having to throw the book away because it gave me the creeps. How could people be manipulated into murder? How could one man dictate actions? What could compel a “normal” person to do such awful things?

The Manson Women and Me: Monsters, Morality and Murder, a true crime/memoir by Nikki Meredith, attempts to answer these types of questions by honing in on the Manson women and their mindsets/actions during the time of the Manson Family murder spree.   Beginning with Meredith in the late 60s travelling to the California state prison, as a journalist, which was home to Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten, Meredith poses these types of questions and searches for answers over the course of 40 years.

From the first pages, I was completely sucked in. Meredith has a strong narrative voice and I thought it was brilliant to present this book as a true crime/memoir. By bringing in her personal feelings, reflections of her own childhood (growing up part Jewish and encountering some anti-Semitic people) and her own relationship that she developed with the Manson women, I found myself drawn into the STORY and not just the facts. I really appreciated this.   All of her own reflections are also backed by a ton of research and other professional works that she willingly and openly cites; it is obvious that she is a well-versed woman.  I really loved the mix of criminal psychology with historical significance.

I think one of the things I appreciated most about this book was how it made me think. Meredith touches on Nazi Germany and how regular Germans (not Nazi soldiers) were convinced to kill Jews, the Stanford Prison experiment, cult mentalities which all come to the same conclusion that people, who do not suffer from mental illness, can be convinced that murder/human brutality is okay in certain situations and that in these situations, after deprogramming, people can be integrated back into society without threat. This concept was so interesting to me. I went back and forth throughout my reading from being angered to feeling sympathy towards the women.

Overall, I think Meredith delivers a really well done and controversial true crime memoir/novel that will sit with me for a long time. I highly recommend.

5/5 stars.

Thanks to Netgalley, the publisher (Kensington) and the author.  It was my pleasure to provide an honest review.

Book Review: The Broken Girls (Simone St. James)

Screen Shot 2018-04-01 at 8.39.54 PM.pngI know what you are thinking. “Seriously…Another book with “girl” in the title?!” But fear not! The Broken Girls, the recently released novel by Simone St. James, stood out for me!   From the beautifully blended narratives to the small details, St. James creates a novel that is hard to put down. In fact, I found myself reading this one late into the night.

The novel opens with the introduction of Fiona, a reporter with a haunted past. After the death of her sister, things have never been the same and even though the man responsible has been put in prison, Fiona (and her family) have never really been able to move past it. So, when she finds out there are plans to restore the building (an old school for girls) where her sister’s body was found, Fiona cannot help but dig around. And, in doing so, she quickly finds out that the past never really stays buried.

Told in alternating time periods and alternating perspectives, I loved the way St. James chooses to tell this story.  I loved the moments that flashed back to the girl’s school in the 40s and how each member of their group of friends had an individual chapter to voice.   I found each character likeable and I was interested in each of their stories and was truly concerned about their plights. I also found that Fiona, in the present storyline, was a well-developed character.

I think that St. James did a brilliant job incorporating a bit of historical fiction; it didn’t feel distracting. I felt like it really added another layer to the story.

One thing I didn’t care for with The Broken Girls was the paranormal storyline. The ghost at the school felt like it really didn’t belong and was sort of a side-plot. I felt like it wasn’t needed.

Overall, I was a huge fan of The Broken Girls and I think that fans of Fiona Barton or Fiona Davis will enjoy this one.

Thanks to the author (Simone St. James) and the publisher (Berkley) for a copy of this novel; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review.

Want to see what Jessica and Chandra thought about this one?  Keep reading to find out what they thought!

Continue reading “Book Review: The Broken Girls (Simone St. James)”

Book Review: Hell’s Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men (Howard Schechter)

Screen Shot 2018-04-03 at 6.25.41 PM.pngI’ve been on a bit of a non-fiction kick lately, so, when Chandra from #cjsreads suggested we read Hell’s Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men by Howard Schechter, I was all about it! I am a fan of historical fiction and true crime so this book seemed like it would be a no-brainer for me.

I hadn’t heard (surprisingly) of Belle Gunness before, so, before I started my reading, I did a quick Google search to get myself a little bit familiar with the story. This ended up being a huge mistake.

The book ended up being a long-winded version of the Wikipedia page. It lacked any real “story” and just ended up being more of a list of facts.

I also really struggled with Schechter’s narrative voice, which I actually found to be a little bit offensive.

Overall, I was not a huge fan.

Thanks to Amazon Publishing for the copy of Hell’s Princess; it was my pleasure to provide an honest review

Want to see if this book worked better for Chandra and Jessica?  Keep reading to find out what they thought of Hell’s Princess

Continue reading “Book Review: Hell’s Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men (Howard Schechter)”

Book Review: The Runaways (Sonya Terjanian) @Sourcebooks @TerjanianSonya

Screen Shot 2018-04-04 at 7.54.15 AM.pngEvery so often, I come across a book that I become completely engrossed in. The prose is easy, the characters are intriguing and I find myself reading late into the night so I can figure out that the story. That is exactly what happened to me when I opened The Runaways, the sophomore novel by Sonya Terjanian.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened up The Runaways and the synopsis wasn’t exactly clear. I knew it would involve a teenage runaway, trying to break free from what she believes will be a dull future and I knew she would meet a woman who is trying to escape from her mundane life.   Was it going to read like contemporary drama? Women’s fiction? Suspense? These were the types of thoughts running through my head as I sat down to flip open the first page.

What I found, as I continued my reading, was that this novel was a little bit of everything: a dark, cold landscape, deeply flawed characters that collide and secrets flow throughout the plot. It was sort of like Scandinavian Fiction meets Southern Gothic Fiction meets a psychological character study. Needless to say, Terjanian had me hook, line and sinker.

Continue reading “Book Review: The Runaways (Sonya Terjanian) @Sourcebooks @TerjanianSonya”